Author: British Council | Published on 1 September 2023


Read what a teacher says about this activity:

Most of my learners find creative writing difficult. They can’t think of anything to write. But if they link the writing to something they’ve made, they are much more motivated to try and write. Making things using recycled materials is a great way to get them writing, and it’s also good for the environment. I guide them through the writing that follows step by step.

Stage 1: Prepare

Make an item using recycled materials e.g. a car using a cardboard carton and bottle caps, which you can use as a model for the learners.

Ask learners to collect recycling or natural materials and bring them to school. Make sure they don’t bring anything dangerous (e.g. broken glass or sharp metal). 

Variation: If your learners don’t have access to these materials, they could also draw them in the earth outside, using their hands or a stick. 

Stage 2: Explain

Say: ‘We are going to write about different kinds of transport. Before we write, we’re going to make some vehicles.’

Show the learners your model of a car. 

Brainstorm different vehicles that could be made using the materials they brought to school.

Encourage learners to be creative when choosing a model to make e.g. suggest rocket, submarine, wheelbarrow, motorcycle, etc.

Stage 3: Create

Learners work in groups or pairs and make different vehicles using recycled materials.  

Say: ‘First, you need to decide what to make. Then you need to plan your vehicle.  Finally, work together to build your vehicle.’

Learners will need to have enough time to complete this stage. Encourage them to use as much English as they can when they are building. 

When the models are complete, ask each group to describe what they made and what the vehicle could be used for. Allow discussion and questions but not criticism about the models.

Stage 4: Complete sentences

This is a supported writing activity. 

Write these sentence frames on the board.

  • Our model is a ________________. (type of vehicle)
  • We used _________________ to make our _________.
  • It looks like ____________________.  It has ________________.
  • People use a ______________ to go __________________.
  • I would like to go to _______________ in our _______________.

Say: ‘Let’s think of some ideas we could put in the gaps in the sentences.’

Brainstorm ideas with the class. e.g. What words could we use to describe the vehicle? How many wheels/windows/wings, etc does it have?

Say: ‘Complete the sentences. Then ask a partner to check your sentences for you. Make any changes that are necessary.’

Learners read their sentences out loud.

Stage 5: Write a story

This is a free writing activity.

Say: ‘Imagine that you can go anywhere you like in your vehicle. Write a short paragraph about the places you could go.’

Circulate and help learners to plan and write their paragraph.

Extend the activity by allowing learners to write a story in groups and dramatise it. Choose different types of models to fit in with other subjects and topics e.g. buildings, farming tools, eating utensils, etc.


Brainstorm: To suggest ideas quickly, before then considering them more carefully.

Circulate: Move around the classroom to check what learners are doing, and if they need any help.

Free: flexible

Model: prototype

Motivated: excited to learn and participate

Supported: given assistance to